Sunday, January 6, 2019

The New Year Post

Customized gift for our friends with their dog & her giraffe!
            Since the 5K in October, I have been focusing a lot on weight lifting, while still pressing on with the my weekly threshold run work (something I thought I was ready to drop for a few months at least and then didn't). I am looking forward to my own track season this year and I’m hoping that the work I am doing (especially with the work in the weight room and high bar pole vault drills) pays off. My swim has been pretty minimal and I have yet to venture back onto the bike. I have, however, been ice-skating a lot with the kids, and have taken up painting again! I used to do a lot of artwork in high school, and haven’t done a lot since then. I have really gotten into water coloring lately though, did a series for my youngest, a few gifts, and then turned out a recent favorite portrait. Do what you are passionate about, right?!
My most recent (& now favorite) painting
            My plans for this year include a LOT of pole vaulting, including the summer meets our Club hosts, Badger State Games Track, the River Vault, and this year I would also like to compete in the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships since it will be held in Iowa! Will I venture into the triathlon world again this year? I have been asking myself that a lot lately. I qualified for USAT Nationals, held in Cleveland in August, with my High Cliff Half victory last summer. If I race, it will be another one-and-done season with Nationals. The question is whether or not I have the motivation to put in the work to race it. I would want 6 months of training for it, so I would need to decide soon if I’m hopping back on that bike soon! I could also approach it like High Cliff, where I trained early on before deciding to fully commit or not.
            Looking further ahead, World’s are being held in Bermuda in 2021, which means racing Nationals next year in order to qualify, which means I would need to qualify prior to racing that as well. I could also shoot for World’s in Canada in 2020 as well. Or I could do none of that. I really love the way that triathlon training makes me feel. I also really LOVED World’s in Cozumel and everything that came with that experience. Triathlons can also give you really good perspective on life. I have reflected back on my High Cliff experience a LOT, and I think there are a lot of great takeaways from going through that. I love the challenge of it. The best things in life are the things that challenge us, excite us, and have the power to at times, even change us (sounds a lot like parenting!). That’s what I also love about pole vaulting and painting. 
So this year, find what challenges you, excites you, and has the power to change you. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Full Circle

            Seven weeks after giving birth to Baya in 2013, I ran a big 5K PR of 20:14. 2013 was a fast year for me, and I only hit that time one other time. After I gave birth to Rowyn in 2017, my hemoglobin and iron had dropped drastically, and I spent 5 weeks getting weekly iron transfusions. I thought I would never run fast again, or compete in a running race. I thought I would never run more than 3 miles again! Fast forward to this summer, and I won the High Cliff half-iron triathlon (a definite shift). In August, I ran a timed mile in 5:57 (a 2-second PR). I got the itch to run a 5K again. Could I break 20 minutes?
            I ran the Three Eagle 5K this past weekend. I say this in context because it has been a long journey. Sometimes you are sitting at the bottom and you don’t even want to try getting up again. But slowly, and surely, something still stirred within me. The desire to push my limits to see what I am capable of – never died when I was sitting at the bottom. It makes every climb back up all the more victorious though.
            Life has been busy with volleyball, and relishing the family time I do get, so I didn’t pursue any other 5K’s. That, and I knew ours (I’m the Race Director if you don’t know) would be a flat and beautiful course. I had a time goal going into it, not a placement goal. You never know who will show up on race day, after all – that is outside of your control. The question persisted – could I break 20 minutes? That would be a significant time drop, but worth the pursuit. You can’t succeed without risking failure. So I risked it. I lined up at the front on that crisp morning, and I risked missing my goal.
            We started off too fast of course, and I told our young starling of a runner so. At that point, our male state athlete was long gone ahead of us, and there was only one gentleman still ahead of us. A lady then pulled up beside us and I realized that at that point we had (naturally) fallen off our pace to being too slow. I picked it up and left everyone with me behind. I was racing the clock at that point anyway. Glancing up, the trail was the most beautiful tunnel of fall colors. I watched my pace and tried to push. After the final turn, I knew I would not break 20 minutes on that day, but I was very close to my PR time. With a final push, I came in with a 1 second PR of 20:13, and ended up being the 1st female overall, and 2nd overall finisher. It was worth the risk. And somehow, 5.5 years and 2 more kids later, I am just as fast as I once was. I didn’t break 20 minutes, but I gained a lot – a renewed belief in myself, and hunger to see what else I’ve got in me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Summer Track Meets

            Last summer I formed the Three Eagle Track Club, and as a Club we host two summer track meets. July 30 wrapped up our Club season with our final meet, and it was our largest one yet! The June meet was a mere two days after the half-iron triathlon, so while I vaulted, I only managed to clear 10-6, and I partook in a 4x4 Coaches relay team for fun. This time was even more fun, and I was much more prepared and rested for it.
            I made my opening height on my first messy attempt. At 10-6, a cross wind had moved in, and I forced myself to commit to it and finally made it on my third attempt. At this point, I was getting pretty frustrated, as I had spent multiple practices out there by myself in order to try to keep vaulting at least once per week. And then it wasn’t going well at all! I made 11 feet on my first attempt, and then I made 11-6!! I had solid clearance on it and didn’t even brush the bar, which is better than when I made the height the last two summers! I was so astonished that I had to double-check the standards to make sure I had it at the right height! I’ll be really jacked about that make for a long time. I was disappointed that I hadn’t made 11-6 at the River Vault, and I assumed that I had missed my shot at it for the summer. (Keep mind that my best in college was 11-10.)
            I finished vaulting in time to go over to the track and hop in for the 800m run. I was well trained for a distance race, but it is fun to go short and hard sometimes. My PR was 2:46 and I tied it! I was definitely able to end the summer track season on a high note. Too bad I didn’t get that vault on video though!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

River Vault 2018

Attempt at 11-6
            This was the third year I’ve competed in the River Vault in La Crosse. It was a gorgeous day, with a nice tail wind for warm-ups. I felt great! Based on how well warm-ups went, I thought I would have a shot at 11-6 again. The last two years here I had made 11-6. I went through all of my poles and I attempted to get on a pole from UW-L, but I never felt comfortable on it. After a first-attempt miss at 10’ with it, I moved back down to my biggest pole and cleared the bar.
             At 10-6, the wind was a bit more fickle, and would at times come at us as a head wind. After 2 misses, I moved down another pole and moved my step up to make the height. At 11’, I moved back up a pole and made it nicely on my first attempt – finally a make that felt good! At 11-6, there were only 3 of us remaining. My first 2 attempts didn’t feel good, but on my 3rd attempt I got back a lot better and it was definitely my best attempt at it. I had the standards buried. If I would have had the next pole in my own line with me, I should have gone on it. At the very least, I should have increased my grip since I was getting so deep.
            It was still a fund ay – despite breaking my pattern of 11-6 at this competition. This year, my mom and Baya came along! I was the only sub/master for females, so I won my category, but overall there were only two others who made 11-6, which tied me as third overall. I’m pretty pleased with that!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

High Cliff Half Iron 2018

            The final 13 days leading up to this race was stressful. I was trying to quickly recover from the crash, get in some final prep, and dealt with a lot of pre-race nerves and anxiety. This was one of the most mentally tough lead-ups as I dealt with self-doubt. Thankfully, on race day morning, I was actually more excited than nervous or anxious. I resolved to enjoy the day and only focus on the things I could control. I wore a bike jersey to cover my shoulder. My sleeveless wetsuit did rub on my wound, but the pain was tolerable. I do love the new wetsuit though! I actually really enjoyed the swim. Even though I recently sprained my shoulder, I still managed to finish it in 37 minutes - just more than a minute slower than 4 years ago on this course. I was happy with it.
            The bike was going really well and I was having a lot of fun with it. After a turn-around, I passed a guy that I had been leap frogging with, before coming up to an intersection. Let me start by saying that I never anticipate having to stop on my bike while RACING. Well coming up on this intersection, there were 4 cars lined up, but I still expected to be able to go through, because an officer was running the intersection. Nope. He waved his arms and yelled at me repeatedly to stop. I will also say that it takes time to come to a complete stop at the last minute when you are at racing speeds. I had a flashback of the crash, had a panic attack, stopped and then sobbed at my bike. The officer just told me to go to the side of the road and calm down. The guy who I had just passed came up alongside me, asked me if I was okay, and I just followed him instead.
            After we got going again, a group had caught up to us (they probably didn’t have to stop). It took a few miles for me to mentally, emotionally, and physically calm down from that experience. A lady in blue had caught us and leap-frogged with us before she eventually pulled away. The rest of the ride went well and I managed to still cut more than half a minute from my 2014 bike split, even with the stop.
Heading out on the run, Andy told me he thought I was in second by only a couple minutes. I assumed I was behind the lady in the blue. The ascent up High Cliff is killer on the run. It is mainly all off-road trail at the top of High Cliff: dirt, grass, and rocky trails with some steep inclines. It is a truly tough run. I had no idea what any of my mile splits were (I kept missing them), and I ran purely on feel. Sometimes I would pick up a guy to run and chat with, which really helps to pass the miles. Eventually I would drop all of my running buddies though. Andy caught me at different parts of the 2-loop course, and updated me a couple times about the status of the leader. He thought I could catch her. I told him I would rather throw up (than to push harder). I enjoyed the swim and the bike (mostly), but I felt like I was more trying to survive the run as best as I could. I also didn’t want to get into my own head about placement. I can’t control what other people do. At one point he told me I was gaining on her. Before the start of the run, I also thought I could break 5 hours for the race, but I later decided it would be tough to do, since my run wasn’t going very fast.
In the second loop of the run, you get mixed in with a lot of people – the Olympic distance triathletes and those doing the Half that are on their first loop. With a couple miles yet to go, I caught up with some ladies. One was clipping along fairly well and it took me a while to even catch up to her (you just try to overtake one person at a time on the second loop). As I passed, I noticed she had a low number from the first wave, so I asked her if it was her first or second loop. To my surprise, she said, “Second.” Was this the lady in first ahead of me? Just in case, I tried to really pick it up from there on out to make sure she wouldn’t decide to pursue me! I told myself to not get excited and to believe that there could still be that lady in blue ahead of me, or someone could still come up from behind.
I ran down High Cliff hill as fast as I could without falling. Glancing behind me, I didn’t see anyone coming for me. Looking at my watch, I saw I had a shot at breaking 5 hours still! I hustled it to the finish line to be the ONLY female to go sub-5 with 4:59:22! I had won – unreal (even with that stop on the bike and emotional breakdown)! (The lady in blue I later discovered was part of a relay.) Baya has told me that she thought I would win, even included it in her prayers one night, and during the run I had been preparing what I would say to her when I would go home without the win. I was super excited to tell her the news! She said her low of the day was not going to see me race. Bless that girl’s heart!
That was the most challenging race – mentally, emotionally, and physically (my legs have never been in that much pain from a triathlon before!) but I’m really glad I pushed through the challenges and finished strong. It was a good experience to go through. I’m also glad I didn’t disappoint Baya! My favorite part from the announcer at the finish, "Oh, and we're not surprised - that's Jayme Wyss!"